A brief account of the Imphal Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous

Imphal Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous
It is generally regarded that the problem of drug abuse in Manipur dates back to the late 1970s.
During this period, the number of drug addicts rose exponentially and due to the lack of proper facilities for treatment and rehabilitation during this period, many families in consultation with the police had to put the drug addicts in jail to stop the abuse. In 1987, while the trend of putting the drug addicts in jail was widely practised, Mr John Pathickaden, director of a Kolkata based rehabilitation centre: St. Joseph Rehabilitation and Relief Services visited Imphal. He put forward the fact that the inability of the addicts to quit drugs and recover is because addiction is a disease. He also extended help to the drug addicts who wanted to stop using drugs and recover with the offer of providing proper treatment against addiction at his rehabilitation centre.
Consequently, a few drug addicts with the cooperation and assistance of the then Superintendent of Police (SP) of Imphal Central Jail, N Kipgen and Inspector General (IG) of Prisons, Thangjam Karunamaya went to St Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Relief Services for treatment.
While the drug addicts were under treatment in Kolkata, members of the Hospitals and Institutions Sub-committee (H&I), Kolkata Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous, came for a panel presentation about recovery from addiction. Listening to the presentation by H&I and attending group meetings of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) at Kolkata gave the drug addicts from Manipur a ray of hope, and the desire to stop using drugs, and recover from addiction and they were even inspired to establish similar fellowships of Narcotics Anonymous in Manipur. As they returned to Manipur after completion of their treatment at St Joseph Rehabilitation and Relief Services, the few recovering addicts started laying down strategies to organize NA group meetings in Manipur as well. Subsequently, the first-ever NA meeting in Manipur was held at Don Bosco School, Chingmeirong on 4th August 1987 with much support and cooperation from Fr. Tony of the school itself. Similar meetings were also later held at Nirmalabas School and Hindi Parishad. These initial meetings were just casual sessions as it was without any guidelines that any NA meeting should have.
Besides, the group had no name then. Later, on 1st Sept 1988, the first NA group was formed and was named Karuna Group and is still operational to date. The first meeting of the group came into being with tremendous help from the IG of Prison, Thangjam Karunamaya and was held at Dharmasala, Thangal Bazaar at a rental charge of only Rs 2 for the venue. As awareness of treatment of drug addiction rose among the addicts, many began to seek help. However, there were still many challenges in facilitating proper treatment to the addicts as Manipur had no rehabilitation centre then. Later, to address the issue, the first rehabilitation centre in Manipur, New Life was founded.
About Narcotics Anonymous Programme and Narcotics Anonymous group
Narcotics Anonymous or simply NA is a non-profit fellowship of men and women for whom drugs have become a major problem. It was founded by a group of addicts in California, USA, in July 1953 to help those in need while trying to get out of drug addiction. Today, it has spread across 144 countries around the globe and more than 70,000 meetings are held every week helping thousands of recovering addicts and those who want to recover from drug addiction.
Anyone may join NA, regardless of age, race, sexual identity, caste, creed and religion. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using and stay clean. The names or particulars of the participants are not recorded. There are no initiation fees or pledges to sign. NA is not affiliated to any organisation and is only focused on what an addict wants to do about his/her problem and how NA can help. Though NA is a programme to ensure a drug-free life, NA does not have any comments on the use of tobacco products or taking prescribed medicines for any mental or physical illness. In such cases, NA suggests getting help from professionals.
NA has a firm belief that any addict can recover and stay clean if he or she can follow NA’s 12 steps and 12 traditions. To follow the steps and traditions NA has regular meetings. The meetings are very simple sessions where NA members share their experiences. The nature of the meeting is such that those who have been able to quit and now lead better lives tell about their journey of recovery after attending NA meetings to those who are in the process of quitting, similar to someone telling her/his story after coming out of a terrible experience. We have learnt from our group experiences that those who attend our meetings regularly stay clean. We do not accept monetary help or assistance from any individual or organisation. However, we welcome cooperation from the Government, medical institutions, religious groups, voluntary organizations, individuals and media persons because they give us enormous help in making our regular meetings organized in schools, churches, clubs and community halls a success. Today with the help of the programme, many people have given up drugs and have come back to normal life.
When the Karuna group was formed, it is said that a few kind of literature were available on NA. However, those who were involved directly with its formation assure that this literature was not guidelines. Those NA members were motivated to form a service committee after reading this literature. The main objective of the service committee was to form NA groups in every nook and corner of Manipur to help drug addicts come out of addiction. It is noteworthy that the group had only 20 to 30 members then. However, with relentless efforts and dedication by the members of the group towards forming a service committee, another group called the Good Will was formed on the day of Diwali in 1990. Subsequently, the ‘Service Committee’ was formed on June 15, 1991. Later, it was rechristened as the Imphal Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous. The first office of the Area Service Committee was designated at the office of Karuna Group at Dharmasala, Thangal Bazaar. Not long after the formation of the service committee, one of the members got the opportunity to go to the United States and learn about the World Service Committee of NA.
It was the first step in connecting of Imphal Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous with the world. A little after the formation of the Good Will group, another group especially for women was formed. It was named Amazing Group. After this, another group called Hope was also formed in Moirang. Unfortunately, both Amazing Group and Hope have ceased to function. Post the formation of the Imphal Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous, today there are 15 such groups including 2 groups under observation spread across the districts of Manipur.
Daily meetings of at least an hour are held by these groups to help the drug addicts come out of addiction. On average, 5 meetings are organised daily with a daily average participants of 171 addicts. On a daily average at least 10 new participants turn up for such daily meetings with the hope of recovering from drug addiction. With the services offered by Narcotics Anonymous, today there are hundreds of people who have recovered from drug addiction and are leading a healthy life.
If you require help to recover from drug addiction or know any near or dear ones in the same situation, please contact the Imphal Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous right away.
The office of Imphal Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous is at Tera Ingudam Leirak, Helpline number: +91-9366120877, Email: [email protected]